With “24″, “Lost”, and “Law and Order” all saying their goodbyes — and all rife with spiritual significance and religious symbolism — I wondered about a possible Hindu connection. Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t a devotee of any of the three shows (my 1st season LOST addiction notwithstanding). So I turned to my friend and avowed “24″-fanatic, Pragnesh Surti to muse on a connection between the show and his Hindu faith. Here’s his guest-post.
As one of many thousands of “24″ fans worldwide, I was relieved to see Jack Bauer survive “the
longest day” of his life, yet again. Monday nights were a fixture in
my house (and countless others) as we all gathered around the television to see Jack make it through another fantastical hour– leaving us
wondering how much more he can take. He was indeed a modern hero,
whose daring escapades left us cheering him on and wanting more.
Stay tuned folks; the
movie will be out soon enough.
Such is the wonder and attraction of a
good story: dynamic characters, epic dilemmas, and the ever-present intertwining of perennial yet relevant topics such as the
struggle of good vs. evil, the pursuit of truth or justice, and
messages of hope, peace, or happiness. As universal as these themes are, I think it’s fair to say that such stories also serve as an
outlet for most of us to vicariously experience what it’s like to achieve
something fantastic and amazing, and probably something beyond the
scope of our day to day lives.
For me, this is not something
As a child, I regularly read the stories of Lord Krishna,
Rama, and other epic heroes
from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita and other stories recounted in the pages
of Vedic literature (courtesy of Amar Chitra Katha comics). This was a
regular activity in my house (keep in mind that there was not much to brag about on
local TV in 1983).
My love of illustrated scripture evolved into reading Marvel
Comics. I also read
about the exploits of
Sherlock Holmes or his youthful and modern counterpart, Encyclopedia Brown. Even in school I felt drawn to the heroic — figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Abe Lincoln, and Charlemagne. And now in
our present day, come heroes like Jack Bauer.
So, what is this fascination with heroism?
While in college, I read Joseph Campbell‘s The Power of Myth
and was struck by his description of the hero’s path:
“… we have not even to risk adventure alone, for
the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly
known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path … Where we
thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own
existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the
(chapter 5, introduction)
As a Hindu, I take solace in
statements like this, which encourage us to take help from those who
tread the same path we may be on now, mythically or in real-time. I
think of this connection as a kind of yoga (which
literally means “union”). By watching or
hearing about the hero’s activities and qualities, we learn to develop
appreciation for and connection to those qualities that has an impact on
our lives. Though
not necessarily tangible, that connection can be very real and
I think this is why “24″ was so successful and resonated with so many of
us. We felt strongly connected to Jack Bauer. We walked in his shoes,
felt his pain, and joined in his victories. The show’s hour-by-hour
day-in-the-life format made this connection even stronger, and blurred
the line between the mythical and real-time.
Jack Bauer had many opportunities to prove himself
worthy of being called a hero to his audience. In the final season, he
was ultimately pitted alone — against the rest of the known world –
to decide for himself what is right and wrong, while relentlessly
pursuing the truth.
His determination to succeed at any cost could
serve as an inspiration to people everywhere. I certainly felt inspired
by his character, and maybe even closer to discovering “the center of
my own existence.” Just don’t expect me to knock down doors and blow up
cars every time I feel the need to “pursue the truth.”
leave that to the professionals.
Pragnesh Surti is an architect and designer by day, and a
“24″-inspired super hero by night.